The Shield make their presence felt by attacking Kane.
Basic match with Ryback defeating Titus O'Neil. Having Ryback kick off the show yet again shows they still have faith in him, so that's good to see. The outcome of this match was never in doubt, but O'Neil still had a nice showing against Ryback while it lasted. It didn't feel completely random, either, as Ryback attacked O'Neil on last week's SmackDown as well. Ryback's subsequent promo was very well done and he's certainly improved on the mic in recent weeks. It was also an effective way of hyping his TLC match with WWE Champion CM Punk at next month's pay-per-view.
Fine match with Alberto Del Rio defeating The Great Khali. Although the build to this match was insanely stupid, at least it makes sense and it was given a reason to happen. It was a good win for Del Rio, but his potential relationship with Rosa Mendes is what really has me reinvesting in his stale character. As for Khali and Hornswoggle, well, I hope that partnership ends as quickly as possible.
Strong interview with The Shield hosted by Michael Cole. Each member of the newly-formed stable played their role excellently, as all three NXT stars shined in their own way. Dean Ambrose was golden on the mic as expected, Seth Rollins was undoubtedly impressive for someone for normally isn't that good of a speaker, and Roman Reigns looked very intimidating by speaking as little as possible. Personally, I've been calling for a Nexus or an nWo reunion for the longest time now, so it was nice to see Ambrose nonchalantly shoot down both ideas. This group has a lot of potential, and I surely hope that WWE continues to conduct interviews as intriguing as this one.
Brief match with Tamina Snuka defeating Alicia Fox. Tamina was recently reintroduced to the audience as a dominant Diva by attacking AJ, so it seemed logical to give her a victory here over Fox. The action was quick, painless and accomplished the task at hand. For those wondering, Divas Champion Eve and Layla (along with The Miz and R-Truth) were not present on the show due to being in Iraq with the troops, hence why their story-line wasn't furthered on this show.
Typical segment featuring John Cena, AJ, Vickie Guerrero and Dolph Ziggler. It wasn't as bad as what we've seen in previous weeks, but it still felt like it was treading water. Both Ziggler and Cena had good performances on the mic, but it didn't nothing to get my excited about this asisine angle whatsoever. If nothing else, it helped hype the Ziggler vs. Cena matchup for later in the night.
Good match between Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston and Tensai. After losing quite a bit in recent weeks, it was nice to see Kingston score a victory here in what was a pretty decent contest against Tensai. Similar to last week's SmackDown, Wade Barrett once again did a superb job on commentary. I'm loving this Intercontinental title feud and it truly makes the prestigious prize feel somewhat relevant again.
WWE Tag Team Champ Daniel Bryan takes control of Rey Mysterio.
Despite the fact the Raw writers seem to have taken this idea from my latest article, this was an excellent matchup between WWE Tag Team Champion Daniel Bryan and Rey Mysterio. Of course, I was highly anticipating Punk vs. Bryan in the main event, but I actually liked what we got instead just a bit more. Seeing how this was the first-ever in-ring singles bout contested between the two, they showed what they were capable of and provided some fun action. Hopefully, this is only a small preview of what we might be getting at WWE TLC in the form of a Triple Threat Tag Team Ladder match for the tag straps.
Entertaining match between John Cena and Dolph Ziggler. They put on an absolute clinic and I enjoyed every minute of it. These two have phenomenal chemistry and the suspense in each fall was full force down the stretch. As much as I loved the match itself, I can't help but feel disappointed with the finish. Firstly, this match would've been best saved for a pay-per-view and not wasted on Raw with little hype. Secondly, Cena had every excuse to lose here due to his injury and AJ's distraction at ringside among other things, so why have him go over Ziggler clean here? I realize Ziggler can't win every match he's involved in, but this wasn't the best of booking following the major week he had last week. Regardless, Ziggler looked strong in defeat in what was easily the match of the night. Here's hoping the bleached-blonde Superstar redeems this loss at TLC in some form or fashion.
Great match between United States Champion Antonio Cesaro and Sheamus. I was a bit skeptical going into this, as various mid-carders have been fed to Sheamus in the past, but I was pleasantly surprised with the match and its respective finish. The action was very physical and their styles meshed perfectly. Having Cesaro lose via count-out was a smart move, as it also helped further the Big Show and Sheamus feud as well.
Nice match between Damien Sandow and Zack Ryder. The crowd was basically flat for it, but that was expected following three hot consecutive matches. It was a logical win for Sandow going into his match with John Cena on WWE Main Event, but having the commentators make note of that and hype it up was a nice touch. For what it's worth, it was cool to see Ryder get his own entrance on Raw again for the first time in quite awhile.
Solid match between WWE Champion CM Punk and Kane. It was nothing special, but it served its purpose and gave Punk a good win. Having The Shield interfere and attack Kane made sense since he had been chosen by the WWE Universe to face Punk in the main event. Ryback looked great here as well, as he wasn't completely demolished by the stable while putting up a fair fight. Furthermore, it helped build towards the WWE Championship match at WWE TLC and once again leave viewers wondering if there's an alliance between The Shield and Punk, so it was an awesome ending to say the least.
Overall, a great show that picked up the pace by the midpoint with some very well-wrestled matches and entertaining action. It feel like it was dragging at all for this viewer, which really helped me stay alert and enjoy everything Raw had to offer in its latter half. Many fans complain as to how the three hours aren't being correctly utilized (myself included), but they took a step in the right direction by killing time with actual wrestling rather than meaningless matches and segments that accomplish nothing. They ended the broadcast on a brilliant note in the sense it will keep viewers coming back to find out if there truly is an alliance between CM Punk and The Shield. This was a vast improvement over last week and the TLC pay-per-view is shaping up to be a solid show.
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